Cross Country Checkup

This business owner says unions unfairly protect 'lazy people'

For Mohamad Mahad, the owner and operator of a trucking company in Kitchener, Ont., when it comes to the protection and happiness of workers, unions aren’t always the answer.
Mohamad Mahad called into Checkup to talk about his experiences working both union and non-union jobs. (David Donnelly/CBC)

For Mohamad Mahad, the owner and operator of a trucking company in Kitchener, Ont., when it comes to the protection and happiness of workers, unions aren't always the answer.

He has worked many jobs, both union and non-union, and said he has come to the conclusion that "unions are good for lazy people."

"Those who don't want to work hard, and who think they have every right to sit around," he told Cross Country Checkup host Duncan McCue during Sunday's show on organizing labour.

When Mahad first came to Canada he said he worked many jobs, including at a mushroom farm "which was abusive."

He also worked a unionized job at a company that shut down, leaving long-time employees without a severance package.

"Can you imagine 40 years, they have been paying their dues, and the company just shut it down Monday morning?" he said. "They lost everything."     

Mahad said it's not the union that makes life better for an employee, but the company itself. How that company operates is the key to a happy workforce, he explained.

Mahad described working a non-union job for a company in Windsor, Ont., which would gather every employee "from the janitor to the owner" to discuss how to improve the way it was being run. He said this instilled loyalty in the employees.

"Nobody was quitting," he said.

Listen to their full conversation above, or read the transcript below.


Duncan McCue: When it comes to low-wage workers and unionization what do you think?

Mohamad Mahad: When I came to this country I worked for different sectors from manufacturing to farming to agricultural - everywhere.

And [I was paid] $7.25. I do remember, my first job when I came to this country, $7.25. And [it was] unionized.

There is a big disadvantage for the union. I have worked for two or three unionized companies in this country - one in Windsor and two in Kitchener, Ontario, and both of them didn't last long. And the reason being is, to tell you the truth, unions are good for lazy people. Those who don't want to work hard, and who think they have every right to sit around and not do any production and expect the highest pay and highest benefits.

There are some companies who are abusive too, and to [work] the workers to the bone whereby they can't even handle what they're supposed to handle.

But there was one particular company I have learned a lesson from. That company, what they used to do is the last Friday of every month everybody comes to the lunch room, from the janitor to the owner, and discuss point by point what is bothering everybody and how to improve it. 

And to tell you the truth when I moved from Windsor [and went] to Conestoga College from that company they assured me every time I was to come back. Because that company, they were keeping people. Nobody was quitting. 

You started from minimum [wage] and every year you get the increment. You've got the benefits.

DM: That was a non-union job then?

MM: Non-union.

DM: When you're talking about temporary, low-wage workers the argument is that you're looking at recent immigrants, migrant workers, racialized people - they're the vulnerable ones that need some sort of protection. But that was not your experience?

MM: It was my experience. I worked at a mushroom farm which was abusive.  But one thing you have to know is, if you know your rights and you can go to the minister of labour, who needs to improve some of the laws that can constrain the employer not to abuse the worker.

But the union is the worst because they are taking dues. In Kitchener, that company, there were people working 40 years who couldn't get their severance. Can you imagine 40 years, they have been paying their dues, and the company just shut it down Monday morning. They lost everything.     

All comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ieva Lucs on Jan. 15, 2017. 

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